A place to be

 

I have been living in Manila, Philippines for the past three months now. It is my first time living in the country as a young adult with a particular identity. I don’t follow many traditions of the 21st and 20th centuries. I don’t idolize bacon. I don’t wear polyester, lycra, or nylon clothing.  I don’t like nor use shampoo. Going to the supermarket is a traumatising experience.

Before moving here to start another chapter of life I was anxious: Will I find a community of people that accepts me and nurtures my interests as a designer, artist, and struggling environmentalist? Will I be persecuted for my sexuality? Will the buildings and people inspire me, or send me constantly day-dreaming of Rome?

I just came back from an organic vegetable market and filled my fridge for less than 12 dollars. I have re-discovered and put together a budding cultural understanding of this land’s pre-colonial and colonial past. I met some tribal Filipinos the other day that share the same philosophy as I do on the interconnectedness between Nature and Man in our universe. Textiles are also very important to them. They make beautiful soil paintings from ground earth. I can feel comfortable going out in a skirt. No more anxieties about being myself in this place.

 

 

Why Manila ought to be the Gay Capital of Asia (from a man’s perspective)

You’ve probably read the recent news about Taiwan legalising gay marriage, and in the Philippines, a country (made of more than 7,000 islands) not too far away, it has got to start somewhere. Manila!

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ONE: You can’t say Manila without saying, MANila

TWO: Pilipinas (How Filipinos say ‘Philippines)… Pili-PINAS, wait, did you just say penis?!

THREE: You don’t have to look too hard to find gay nightlife

FOUR: These Golden Queens 

FIVE: Manila Luzon

SIX: Because it’s the home of The King of Catwalk (who I happened to message on Grindr- a gay networking app.)IMG_6897 2

SEVEN: Because unlike many other languages where the word for ‘gay’ is borrowed from English, there’s actually a native for ‘gay’ in Tagalog. It’s bakla 

EIGHT: There’s actually a Manila based LGBTQ magazine that’s pretty rad

NINE: And you still wonder why Manila should be the gay capital of Asia and gain more momentum as the next Asian capital where gay marriage ought to be legalised? Help President Duterte stay true to his word by expressing yourself, today.

boycott NESTLÉ

If you haven’t heard this news that’s already a couple of years old: Nestlé doesn’t believe that water should be a public right. Instead, it sucks up water from local water sheds and sells that water in plastic bottles.

No more kit-kats, twin-popsicles, yoghurt, chocolate… That dairy from abused hormone pumped dairy cows isn’t great for you anyways. Not to mention all that sugar. Stop the addiction. An addiction to dairy and meat is like an addiction to cigarettes.

 

What does reality mean today anyways?

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Today I read an article ‘Why reality is too strange for satire’ on the BBC.  It was very fitting for what I wanted to write.

Being a physical and mental traveller, I often have episodes where my grasp of reality shifts. Having recently moved back to the Philippines, perhaps aided by a bout of jet-lag, not to mention what has been set out by the spectacle of the news recently, I have had another strong episode of shifting reality (we could also attribute Mercury retrograde and me being a sun sign ruled by Mercury).

Like a number of conceptual artists who’ve performed songs like ‘Dream Awake’ , I’ve been recently very confused between the dream world and the world awake. Perhaps it’s because I feel so happy to be alive that my awake life often is just like a dream, whilst nightmares do appear every now and then, they don’t bother me as I can often quite easily analyse their causes, i.e. self generated anxiety.

Like having a totem from the film Inception to to grips with whether one is in the dream or awake world, when such episodes of shifting reality occur often sparked by unthinkable events like Donald Trump becoming president, I have my own little totem in the form of a tattoo. Only I know and remember what it really felt like when it was etched into my skin with a needle. 

Easily visible on my forearm, it’s an Ancient Greek concept revitalised in the 20th century by Martin Heidegger. Pronounced ‘aletheia’, it means truth, that which is unhidden, and reality.

In this most recent episode of shifting reality, I got back to grips with my own reality in realising that reality is not paying complete attention to whatever news you read and see on the screen, and having a handle on how those images may be affecting your daily actions. Knowing that those images of Trump becoming president are not my reality, or the reality. It’s just news. A manifestation of our collective consciousness. And when is there not news in today’s world? Front news headline: ‘Two leaves fell from a tree today in Central Park’. Also a manifestation of our collective consciousness. To be sane in today’s world polluted not only with industrial chemicals in rives and plastic, but also images and noise in our heads, reality begins once you look at and act in the world clearly presented around you through your own very two eyes and not from a screen, like when you go for a walk and look into the smiling (or crying) face of a baby in a pram. If you do happen to go on a walk and see Donald Trump do say hello. This has just been an electronic transmission to go on a walk and see the world through your own two eyes.

 

 

Fashion Week Discoveries

Fashion weeks are exciting, beautiful, laborious and get you thinking. Attending and working backstage at Milan, London, and Paris fashion weeks were invaluable experiences, and I met some amazing people. Exposing myself to these events made me realise however that I don’t want to invest my time to become an unpaid intern just to land a pre-existing job in an industry in need of more deliberate reformation.

By the second week I was on my way to the Ferragamo show and passed by a homeless man prostrated on the floor, seemingly unconscious or asleep with his hand sticking out as if waiting to accept help or a handful of coins- a sadly typical urban scene, I know- but I really took it to heart, and my heart told me that it didn’t make sense to continue fighting for this pre-existing spot in a largely self-absorbed industry in need of massive change. I love fashion, but aside from being the second most polluting industry in the world, spending hundreds of thousands to millions of euros on a fifteen minute show with a rocket ship that moves up and down isn’t fashionable, and shouldn’t be the future. Can someone please change the channel?

I got over the spectacle of it all and got used to walking in to and/or saying hi to people like The Sartorialist (street photographer Scott Schuman), Anna Wintour, Suzy Menkes, Anna dello Russo, Caroline Issa, Christian Louboutin, and Rihanna. They’re just people doing their jobs and being celebrated for it. Go follow your heart and do your job, in fact following your heart is your job.

 

 

Les heurtoirs de Paris

heurtoir, or in English, a door-knocker , usually adorns the street level entry doors of buildings throughout Paris, first appearing in France in the 9° century.

Intriguing they are, the slight deviations in design from this 18°century style of heurtoir, popular throughout paris.

A Necessary ‘Modern’ Read

‘Brooks believes DuPont wants the program to fail. “They poisoned the world,” he says. “A successful medical monitoring program would give us much better data on the links between this chemical and various diseases, and DuPont would have so much liability that it couldn’t possibly compensate everyone.”’

‘“DuPont deceived as many people as they could deceive as for as long as they could,” Jim Tennant told me. “Now that their secrets are out and they’ve been forced to clean up the water, they’re starting again with a new set of chemicals. This isn’t a fight that will be won in my lifetime.”’

If you’re concerned about plastic, please read this courageous and beautifully written piece by Mariah Blake who is a Murrey Marder Nieman Fellow in Watchdog Journalism at Harvard University and is working on a book about plastics.

 

‘A City is Not a Computer’

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It doesn’t usually take me very long to feel a bit queasy around people who are convinced that technology and ‘high-tech’ will ‘save the world’. Your body including your legs and brain are the highest technology out there, and all you need, really. We can’t make Nature ‘better’, we can only learn to understand and respect Nature.

A city is not a computer, and we can’t fetishize algorithms without forgetting about many intangible sensations and feelings that affect action. (Read the full article referred to in the title here )

‘Our current paradigm, the city as computer, appeals because it frames the messiness of urban life as programmable and subject to rational order.’

We aren’t here in life to learn how to control every external situation. I really don’t think that’s the point.  We’re here to learn how to accept uncertainty, and realise that our own inner happiness doesn’t stem from external situations, but from something we can control- our own actions that come from within ourselves. Something that you fashion.

 

x

-Allen